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Friday, April 05, 2013

FLASHBACK: A Catholic Schools Prediction Revisited

A fifteen percent enrollment drop in roughly five years is not particularly good news, and the news will only get worse.
I wrote the above sentence in February, 2008 about the 2006-2007 Catholic school enrollment.
Given current trends, by 2012, the homeschooling population will be bigger than the population in the Catholic school system.
That was my prediction on August 14, 2009.

Let's see how well I did.
More than 2 million U.S. students in grades K-12 were home-schooled in 2010, accounting for nearly 4 percent of all school-aged children". US News and World Report, June 2012
Yep, right on track.
The numbers below are for Catholic schools during the last century, compared to US population growth (data is from the National Catholic Education Association):

Total Enrollment Grade School High School Percent Change Non-Catholics US Population Percent Change
1919-20 1,925,521 1,795,673 129,848 104,514,000
1929-30  2,464,467 2,222,598 241,869 28% 121,767,000 17%
1939-40 2,396,305 2,035,182 361,123 -3% 130,879,718 7%
1949-50 3,066,387 2,560,815 505,572 28% 149,188,130 14%
1960-61 5,253,791 4,373,422 880,369 71% 180,671,158 21%
1970-71  4,363,566 3,355,478 1,008,088 -17% 2.70% 205,052,174 13%
1980-81  3,106,000 2,269,000 837,000 -29% 11.20% 227,224,681 11%
1990-91 2,475,439 1,883,906 591,533 -20% 249,464,396 10%
2000-01  2,647,301 2,004,037 643,264 7% 281,421,906 13%
2010-11   2,065,872 1,467,694 598,178 -22% 308,745,538 10%
2012-13 2,001,740     1,434,243       567,497 -3% 15.90% 312,780,968 1%

Notice that the Catholic school enrollment growth has only exceeded US population growth three times in history: in the decades of the 1920s, 1940s and 1950s: each were post-World War decades.

We now have a total Catholic school enrollment that is virtually identical to the 1919-1920 school year, even though the country's population is now over three times larger. In order to attain that number, we had to increase the number of non-Catholic students from less than 3% to nearly 16% (in violation of the Magisterial documents), but even with a five-fold increase in non-Catholic attendance, we haven't been able to staunch the blood loss.

Even during the go-go economic times of the 1990s, the growth in Catholic school enrollment didn't match population growth. It essentially just held steady. That is, even in the best of economic times, Catholic schools aren't growing.

So, if you take the 1990s out of the equation (or, alternatively, look at the average loss since the 1960s), Catholic schools are losing 500,000 students every ten years. Given that the system currently enrolls 2 million students, the problem is obvious. If that trend continues, the entire Catholic school system will be gone in four decades. Entirely. Gone.
"Recent studies laud homeschoolers’ academic success, noting their significantly higher ACT-Composite scores as high schoolers and higher grade point averages as college students. Yet surprisingly, the average expenditure for the education of a homeschooled child, per year, is $500 to $600, compared to an average expenditure of $10,000 per child, per year, for public school students."  Education News, May 2012
"No homeschool graduates are unemployed or on welfare." Forbes, January 2013
"Per pupil cost is 5% of public school ($500 vs. $10,000) and 10% of Catholic school ($500 vs. $5000). Burgeoning Internet resources and on-line courses will only improve the cost numbers. It is nearly 75% more effective than public school in educational outcome, and 35% more effective than Catholic schools."  Kellmeyer, August 2009
I repeat the call I made to bishops and priests in 2005.
Stop throwing money down the rathole of Catholic brick and mortar schools.
Start giving parish and/or diocesan stipends DIRECTLY to homeschooling families.

You can subsidize the education of a LOT more Catholic students that way, at a significantly reduced cost not just in salary and physical plant upkeep, but also in legal liability problems. By returning the problem to the parent, you don't need to do all that expensive "Children Really Are Protected (CRAP)" training.

Whether you like it or not, the Catholic school system is going away. It's better to get out in front and lead then be run over by the train as you try to flag it down.

Update June 2018
There are more homeschoolers in Texas than there are privately schooled students.


Steve Kellmeyer said...

All Catholic school data is from the National Catholic Education Association

Ann said...

I took my kids out of Catholic schools when they were in 8th and 6th grades respectively. I figured if there were going to hear heresy, it would be better coming from non-Catholic teachers at public school than "Catholic" teachers at Catholic schools. It is much easier to correct bad information if it is not coming from someone who is supposed to know what they are talking about. I advised my son just yesterday to consider home schooling.

John said...

Public schools, and sometimes Catholic schools, have become subject to educating kids whose parents..don't always care so much. Homeschoolers though, DO care a great deal about what the kids learn.
Amazing what an impact you see when mom and dad won't tolerate goof-off kids so much.

Magdalene said...

My son had an abusive teacher in the Catholic school in the second grade. It was a terrible thing and yet in the long run, having taken the children out of Catholic school and even doing some homeschooling my children, now in their 20s are still Catholic. None of those early friends that I know about are.

catholic traveller said...

As I recall, our Catholic school switched from all Catholic texts to state provided texts in the mid '70s. Prior to that, I believe that "parish" schools were entirely funded by parishioners and tuition. When they started accepting state and federal funds, I believe it went downhill. Also when the staff went from mostly nuns to mostly lay persons.

I have homeschooled my children using Catholic curriculum and materials for 15 years. Catholic homeschooling materials are truly Catholic, not state subsidized. Also, Catholic homeschoolers don't need tuition subsidies, so don't bother with diverting the subsidies there. Maybe they should go to return "Catholic" hospitals to truly Catholic status.